The Men Of The Australian Ballet -- 'We Are Athletes, Yet We Are Artists'

01/10/2015 7:47 PM AEST | Updated 31/08/2016 9:17 PM AEST

Australian male athletes are usually lauded if they're surfers or football players, celebrated for their bravado. But we're also a country known for producing some of the best male ballet dancers in the world.

And Thursday being World Ballet Day, it's a chance to celebrate not only this 15th century movement but our Ballet Men, too.

In this film, some of our best dancers explain what drew them to ballet and explain how much strength and passion goes into performing at the highest level.

Cristiano Martino, one of the dancers featured in the short film, told Huffington Post Australia it's the extreme physicality of ballet that he loves most.

"I love bounding around the studio and you know, it's just something I've always really loved and sort of exhausting myself with it", he said.

"It's also a real mental challenge. It's something you can always keep getting better at. And that can be really frustrating but it can also be really rewarding when you get on top of something you've been working towards for a long time."

cristiano martino

Pictured: Cristiano Martino. Supplied by The Australian Ballet.

A typical week, if there can be one, involves hours of rehearsals and training.

"When we're not performing we start at 10:30am and we have class for about 1hr 15 mins, then we will rehearse until 2:30pm, get about an hour for lunch, then start back and go till about 6:30pm," Martino explained.

If they're performing though, they replace three hours of training with a four hour show in the evening instead.

"We can do up to eight shows in a week. It can be a bit... it's a lot of fun."

But that physical dedication is worth it, Martino said, for the pure joy audiences get out of a performance.

"The ballet can be a real experience. It's a good form of escapism. In the state theatre you can't even get phone signal you know. You sort of forget the hum drum of everyday life and sort of get swept away into a beautiful performance."

cristiano martino

Pictured: Cristiano Martino. Supplied by The Australian Ballet.

Although Martino is ambitious, a career in ballet was not something he initially considered a possibility. He just did it because he enjoyed it.

"My older sister did dancing, and I used to flail around behind her in the living room, then I asked Mum if I could go along to classes too," he said.

Not long after, Martino was accepted into the Australian Ballet School. By 19 he had made it to the top level.

Although a healthy competitive vibe would be expected between then men of The Australian Ballet, Martino said everyone is actually really supportive and lovely to one another.

"I think what you have to realise is there are so many different aspects to ballet and it's different for everyone. So I think everyone gets along really well, there's not too much competitiveness really," he told HuffPost Australia.

To young men figuring out whether to pursue ballet, Martino said they should just take the leap, so to speak.

"If you love being challenged and working hard I'd say it's definitely something to pursue and you know, if you're tenacious and you listen you can, anything can happen," he said.

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